Cordoba and a Mashup of Faiths

On October 21, 2013 by Oren and Cassie

Cordoba is a microcosm of Andalusia – a mashup of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish history that permeates the city. Ask any Andalusian about Cordoba, and they’ll tell you that the city is “preciosa.” Precious. We couldn’t agree more. And nowhere is the city’s unique mix of cultures more evident than the biggest attraction here.

cordoba mesquita

The Mesquita

THE CATHEDRAL OF CORDOBA

Cordoba scored a few extra points in our book when our hostel turned out to be across the street from the Cathedral of Cordoba. That is its offical name according to the pamphlets they printed in 6 languages. But I like to call it the Cordoba Mesquita-Cathedral. Why? Because in 785, following the Islamic invasion of Cordoba, the Moors began building their mosque here (mesquita in Spanish).

It was a beautiful mosque that went through four periods of construction. It wasn’t until 1236 that King Ferndinand III reconquered Cordoba and decided to turn this same mosque into a cathedral. What stands today is an amazing integration of the architectural, cultural, and religious influences from both religions.

cordoba mesquita

Some of the Mesquita’s 856 columns

The Mesquita-Cathedral is impressive from the outside, too. If you cross the nearest bridge, there is a great view for taking photos.

cordoba mosque

The Mesquita and the bridge

JEWISH CORDOBA: THE CITY OF RAMBAM

Let’s not forget about the other religion with deep roots here. Cordoba is the birthplace of one of the most famous Jewish philosophers in history, Rabbeinu Mosheh Ben Maimom or RaMBaM. A section of the old city is still known as the Jewish quarter. This is where Rambam’s statue is displayed. RaMBaM was a rabbi, physician, and philosopher. He was known for studying conditions he treated, even (if the internet can be trusted) serving as the court physician for Saladin.

Although the ancient synagogue in Cordoba still stands, there is no modern Jewish community here following the Spanish Inquisition.

cordoba rambam

Oren learning from RaMBaM through osmosis

RELAXING HAMMAM-STYLE

After one month of traveling, we realized it was time for a “break.” We decided to indulge in the Islamic custom of a Hammam bath. Now between us, we’ve got two religions under our belts which means, so we know a lot of religious customs. But neither of us had ever been to a Hammam bath before.

The Hammam has four different rooms with pools: the cold room, the warm room, the hot room, and the steam room. You stay inside for 90 minutes, moving in between the rooms however you see fit. They warn you against spending more than 5 minutes in the hot or steam room. The latter is SCORCHING hot – it’s almost hard to breathe. And the flip side, the pool in the cold room is FREEZING. At some point during your time in the Hammam, you get a massage, and all your worries melt away.

We really enjoyed this ritual and it even included a massage. While it may have been more on the touristy side, if you need a night of relaxation and feel like indulging a little bit, it’s worth a try.

We only needed to spend one day in this enchanting city until we felt well-rested, relaxed, and ready to continue our travels.

Check out our Cordoba photo gallery.

-C.K.

2 Responses to “Cordoba and a Mashup of Faiths”

  • So jealous of your journey through Cordoba. Was just in Spain. Wanted to do all of Andulucia, but ended up doing Barcelona and the south of France instead. I’m so intrigued by the Moorish architecture of the south of Spain.

    • You’ll just have to go back to Andalucia! We missed Cadiz, so we’ll be back too. The architecture there is so fascinating with its mix of Moorish and Spanish designs. Barcelona and France are pretty awesome too! Did you get to Carcassonne?

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